Honeybee nestmate recognition: Effects of queen fecal pheromones

M. D. Breed, T. M. Stiller, M. S. Blum, R. E. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Previous work has shown that queen honeybees, Apis mellifera, produce waxy esters composed of 8-14 carbon acids and 6-14 carbon alcohols in their feces. We tested these esters for effects on nestmate recognition; 11 of the 12 esters tested significantly modified the recognition characteristics of worker honeybees. Pairwise tests showed that workers can discriminate between at least some pairs of queen esters and that workers can discriminate between a queen ester and hexadecane (another known nestmate recognition cue). These results suggest that a queen may use the esters to enable workers to recognize her or to scent-mark her colony.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1633-1640
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1992


  • Apidae
  • Apis mellifera
  • Hymenoptera
  • esters
  • fecal
  • honeybee
  • kin recognition
  • pheromones
  • queen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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